Some Random Thoughts on 2020
It’s a new year and a new decade. As we noted in this article last week “time flies.” I remember celebrating the beginning of a new millennium with friends and the anticipation of what would happen to the cyber world when “Y2K” arrived. Many doomsday prophecies were issued as 1999 counted down: the electric grid would go down; consumer accounts would be a tangled mess; stocks would crash, etc. Standing on a hill in central Alabama, we could see fireworks exploding in the distance at the stroke of midnight. But that’s about all that blew up. No computer chaos, no power outages, no widespread panic or despair. We woke up later that day to a world that was carrying on normally.
Remembering the hollow warnings and living another twenty years since the 2000s began, here are some random thoughts on a new year.
1. Beware of groundless fearmongering. I say “groundless” because there are matters about which we should be concerned, but there are also many vested interests who want us to fear so we will believe their dogma and/or buy their products. We are bombarded with articles like “Asteroid to buzz by the earth”; “Coastal cities will be underwater in twenty years”; “Our electric grid is at great risk”; “War in the Middle East will destroy the world’s oil markets”; “Elections in the U.S. compromised by outside forces”; etc. I have learned through the years that most doomsday headlines are overblown, recycled opinions that are grounded more in ideology than facts. All you have to do is read newspaper articles of yesteryear to see that “there is nothing new under the sun.”
Warning: We can develop an anxious mindset that, like a pinball, careens from one dire worry to another. Solution: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt 6:34); “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Ph 4:6-7). While the Lord allows mankind free will in individual decisions, He reserves the right to steer trends and events in such a way that accomplishes His will. Sometimes His will is unpleasant even for believers, but if so we will be supplied with everything we need to endure and live faithfully.
2. Invest more in family relationships. I say that from my current perspective as a husband of 37 years, a father of four children ranging from 27 to 35 and a grandfather of three. I rejoice in seeing young families expanding, and I am amazed that I have gone from a solitary individual to a family of twelve. But these closest of all relationships take time, emotional investment, hands on attention to and teaching of our children. Our marriages require ongoing maintenance and feeding.
Warning: It is easy to take for granted the ones closest to us. In fact, that closeness itself can be deceiving. In the crush of our busy schedules we may think that our marriage will be strong and stable without work; our children will love and respect us no matter what; that the family will always be there regardless of neglect. The wedding is merely the beginning, the laying of a foundation of mutual devotion and commitment. Solution: The real work of “husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church” (Eph 5:25); the real work of “wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22); the real work of “do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) happens over the course of many years and patient service. It digs deep in moments of frustration; it outlasts longstanding downturns of fortune; it thrives when personal concerns are subordinated to the needs of others. Our family deserves the highest priority, for these are the ones we have the most immediate commitment to in this life.
3. Don’t exaggerate the role of politics/politicians in earthly affairs. I believe that Christians can vote, seek to influence their legislators, defend our constitutional charter and otherwise be patriotic and active in the political process. We should not be passive, apathetic or cynical about such matters, for at the end of the day politicians are people and need our prayer, support and maybe even correction and/or rebuke.
Warning: However, we can get so wrapped up in planks and platforms, laws and policies, economics and elections that we lose sight of who is in control. Solution: If Scripture teaches us anything, it shows that the broader flow of worldly events is controlled by Jesus, the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Nothing happens outside of the permissive will and omniscient awareness of Jesus. We do not know what plans He has for our culture and nation. Thus, the majority of our efforts need to be in the dissemination of Scriptural truth and development of spiritual character.